Flair Bartending FAQ

Why is FBTV free? Why don't you charge anything?

Good question. The hippie in me likes to believe that information should be free; but the realist in me acknowledges that I wouldn’t be spending the time and money operating FlairBartendingTV if I didn’t think it would eventually make money. Planning, filming, editing, uploading, and posting is about an 8 hour process for each lesson – not including the time it took to actually learn the flair move I’m teaching – so I do ultimately hope this labor of love pays some bills.

The site is free because that’s how you build an audience online when you are starting out – and a bigger audience is how I make money. Every time something is purchased from my bar supply store I make a couple bucks. Many of my videos have YouTube/Google Ads before them, so every time you watch one I get a fraction of a fraction of a penny. When you click on one, I get a fraction of a penny. It’s not much, but a couple thousand views every day adds up to $2-3/day.

Eventually, I hope to have sponsors for the site, and someday I will likely sell DVDs or offer a paid version of the site. For now I’m just having fun teaching people how to flip bottles.

Some users have suggested putting a donation button on the site and, while I appreciate the sentiment, the reality is that donation tabs rarely bring in any money. If you like the site and want to support it, share the links on Facebook/Twitter and tell your friends about it. If you really like the site and want to support it, please consider the FBTV Bar Store next time you are shopping for bar supplies.

Do you sell a DVD? Can I download your videos?

Not yet. For now, everything is available for free on YouTube. Give it time and I will eventually either put together a DVD or make a paid version of the site with downloadable videos.

Where can I find the bottles and tins that you use in your videos?

Everything I use in my videos can be purchased directly from my bar supply store. I’ve put together a couple different flair bartending packages, from the bare necessities to a complete flair package, so you can find whatever fits your price range and get started with just the basics or a complete set for everything you’ll need.

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What's the difference between a 1 Liter bottle and a 750 ml bottle? Which FlairCo bottle should I get?

If you’re a beginner to flair bartending (12 months or less) you should probably get a 1 Liter. A 1 Liter bottle is most like everything that you use behind your bar and the 1 Liter FlairCo practice bottle will be most similar to what you generally use. It will be the best practice bottle for you.

However, if you’ve been flairing for a while and are looking to practice some more challenging moves, consider getting a 750 ml bottle – it’s what 95% of flair bartenders ultimately end up using. The reason for this is that 1) the smaller 750 ml bottle will fit very nicely into the shaker tin, allowing you to practice a whole bunch of sweet new moves where you catch the bottle in the tin and 2) if you are one of the lucky few who works in a full flair bar, the 750 ml bottle is the standard size bottle used in most flair bars.

For 80% of the people reading this – especially if you’ve never owned a practice bottle – the 1 Liter FlairCo practice bottle is going to be your best bet to start with. That being said, as you progress with your skill level you’ll ultimately want to move into using 750s. If you can afford to purchase one of each size, do so, and enjoy the versatility that you will have as you move forward.

When do new videos get posted?

I make every effort to have a new flair lesson up every Monday. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to make sure you’re the first to know when a new video is posted.

What tools do I need if I'm just starting out?

Most basic flair bartending moves involve a liquor bottle and/or a cocktail tin. When I first started flairing, I borrowed a tin from work and brought home some empty bottles. This worked for a little while – until I shattered glass all over my living room carpet. Sooner rather than later, you’ll want to get your first practice bottle and a tin or two. Checkout my review of the FlairCo bottle if you have questions.

Checkout the flair packages I’ve put together for people just starting to learn flair bartending at the top of the left hand column. In a perfect world, you’ll want to get the Complete Flair Package (a 1 Liter bottle, a 750 ml bottle, 4-5 weighted tins, and other accoutrements) but  in reality get whatever fits your budget. We ship just about anywhere in the world.

What size tin should I buy? 16oz? 18oz? 28oz? What do you use in the videos?

The 28 oz. tin is the standard size for both mixing drinks and for flair bartending. The 16 oz. and the 18 oz. tins are used for topping or “capping” the end of the 28 oz. tin when you shake the drink. I recommend the 18 oz. tins for this since they sit a little higher than the 16 oz. tin and allow you to pour more shots or cocktails without spilling. Ideally, would start with one 18oz. tin and at least three or four 28 oz. tins (you’re going to want a bunch for the Multi-Pour.)

I noticed there are weighted and unweighted tins. What's the difference?

Ultimately, every bartender has to decide on his or her own. And there’s no right or wrong answer, just personal preference. I can tell you that my preference is the weighted tin. I find that they have a more deliberate spin to them. Most of the bartenders I know prefer the weighted tin. That being said, a couple of the most insane flair bartenders I know use unweighted tins. The difference really comes down to their spin as you flip them. Imagine the difference between flipping a hammer in your hand (with the heavy weight at one end) and flipping a drumstick (which is evenly balanced throughout.) That’s pretty much the difference. There’s no wrong answer. Eventually just pick one and go with it. Or…

Get a couple of both. They usually cost around $5. If you can afford to, get a couple weighted and one or two unweighted. See which ones you prefer. I will tell you this upfront: eventually, your weighted tin will likely become an unweighted tin. The weight is spot-welded on and has been know to pop off if it hits the ground just right. Sucks, I know, but it’s the reality. You can help prolong their life by not practicing over hard surfaces such as concrete or hardwood floors. Most of my weighted tins have lasted years, though I will admit that about 2-3 of the 50+ I’ve bought over the years have taken a bad spill and split apart in the first month I owned them. It’s not a terrible loss, the tin works fine, it just becomes an unweighted tin.

One note about taping your tins: most bartenders who work in a bar with other flair bartenders will oftentimes use different color electric tape wrapped around the bottom of their tins. This serves two purposes: 1) it helps secure the weight on the bottom, helping out if the tin takes a bad hop, but mostly 2) different colored tape helps bartenders identify who’s tins are who’s. Nothing like going to work with your five new tins and getting them mixed into your co-worker’s/bar’s tins. Set yourself apart and use some colored tape on your tins to declare which ones are yours.

I'm having a difficult time with a move. Any advice?

Not to sound unsympathetic but practice, practice, and practice some more! If it was easy, every bottle-jockey would be doing it.

Have patience and be confident that you will succeed if you stick with it. My goal anytime I learn a new move is to land it – or even come close to landing it – just once in my first 100 attempts. Depending on the difficulty of the move I may not even get it once out of the first hundred, but if you can eventually land the move even once then you know it’s possible. From there it’s a patience and numbers game. See if you can get it 2 out of 100 tries. Then 3 out of a 100.

Pay attention in the videos to the way I break down the moves. Sometimes something as simple as the direction your palm is facing can be critical. Some moves I’ve learned in a day, others took me weeks or months of non-stop practice. Flair bartending isn’t easy, but that’s part of what makes it exciting to watch.

After all of this if you’re still having a problem with a particular move, upload a video of you flairing to YouTube and send me the link. I’ll check it out and see what’s up.

Do you recommend going to Bartending School?

Having graduated from a bartending school myself, I appreciate the work they do. Bartending schools are effective at teaching things like basic mixology, liquor knowledge, service basics, and mechanics such as freepour. The irony is that you can generally learn in your first week on the job much of what you learned in a couple weeks at school. However, the best thing about a bartending school is that they will often help you get your first job, which can be worth the price of tuition in a competitive market.

I want to be a bartender but I'm having trouble finding a job; most places only hire someone with experience. Any advice?

If bartending is something you really want to do, be willing to start at the bottom. That means a few different things. At busy establishments, be willing to work as a bouncer or a busser; many bars only promote bartenders from within their current staff. Yes, it can be frustrating, but many professional bartenders had to pay their dues to get where they are. Nobody in any career gets to start at the top. Be willing to work a year or two at a less popular establishment like a bowling alley or a neighborhood pub. And be willing to work the slow shifts – usually daytime or Monday/Tuesday nights. Get any job in any bar you can, focus on giving exceptional service, learn as much as you can, and don’t flair at all when you’re starting out.

I'm currently working as a barback. How do I get my boss to realize that I'd be a great bartender?

Simple. Be the best barback your boss has ever seen. I’ve worked with way too many barbacks who talked my ear off about how great they would be as bartenders. Meanwhile, my ice bin is empty and I’m out of beer. The proof is in the pudding. If you’re a barback but you want to be bartending, work your butt off and don’t say a word about pouring drinks. Work so hard that your bartenders absolutely love you and dream about you when you’re not there. Oftentimes, bartenders have a say in recommending who they want promoted to work with them. If your bartenders and your boss see that you’re an awesome barback, they’ll be excited to have you bring that same energy and professionalism as a bartender.

Will flair bartending help me find a job?

Maybe. Probably not. I very strongly recommend learning everything else about bartending first, from drink recipes to giving good service to gaining experience. These things will benefit you much more than being able to flair and they are much more important to bartending than being able to flip bottles. That being said, being able to flair is a great skill to add on to everything else. Some bar owners love flair bartending, some are indifferent, and many have a negative opinion of flair bartending because they think it slows down service and increases the chance of spilling product or breaking bottles.

It is so important that, if you flair bartend, you must be a good ambassador of flair. Exceptional service should always be your #1 priority. Spending 5 minutes to make 1 drink when you have 5 people waiting is just plain dumb. Spilling is not allowed. Good flair bartenders know that – when performed well at the appropriate times – flair can excite your customers, increase tips, and make a memorable experience for your guests.

How old do I have to be to bartend?

Depends on the state or country in which you live. Ask your local bartender.

How much money do bartenders make?

Depends on a number of factors: where in the world you live, what type of bar or club you work in, what kind of experience you have, how good you are at your job, and other factors. In the U.S., bartenders often make between $25,000 – $50,000/year. Bartenders at hot clubs in big cities can make $40-80,000 working four nights a week. I’ve met flair bartenders in Las Vegas whose salary is well into six figures. But they’ve paid their dues AND they’re among the best in the world. Jobs like that take years of experience to get into. The top earners in any field usually have the resume to justify it.

To get an idea of what bartenders in your area make, spend a few nights at your favorite bar, tip the bartender well, offer to take him or her to lunch if you can “interview” them, and over lunch, ask politely how much they average on an average night. And if they’d prefer not to tell you, respect that. Or pick them up by the ankles, shake the money out of their pockets, and count it.